Microsoft, IBM, BEA to unleash Web services specs

Industry heavyweights Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. on Monday will unleash a trio of proposed Web services standards that address several unmet needs of the nascent services-oriented application model, according to sources.

With these standards, the companies are looking to solidify workflow and business process execution as well as transaction integrity and coordination.

Primary among the new proposals is the awkwardly named BPEL4WS (business process execution language for Web services), which represents the marriage of two rival standards, WSFL (Web services flow language) from IBM and XLang from Microsoft. An executable language, BPEL4WS is designed to ensure that differing business processes can understand each other in a Web services environment.

Many industry observers had expected WSFL to subsume XLang as a standard.

The other proposed standards include one for Web services transactions, dubbed WS-Transaction; and one for Web services coordination, called WS-Coordination.

The former deals with what experts refer to as non-repudiation and will help to ensure the integrity of Web services transactions, making sure that a transaction happens only once and if a mistake occurs it is compensated for automatically. This becomes particularly important for transactions involving finances, such as purchase orders. Clearly, there is a need to make sure that a purchase order, and a corresponding payment, goes through once and only once.

WS-Coordination drills down further into the transaction, providing a standard way for making sure that many simultaneous transactions execute correctly from one system to another, regardless of platform, sources said.

The three proposals join an alphabet soup of other Web services standards, including the now mainstream SOAP, XML, UDDI, and WSDL.

None of these new specs address security, however, which users still consider to be the largest stumbling block when it comes to Web services.

To that end, Microsoft and IBM also developed the WS-Security specification, which in late June was turned over to Organization for the Advancement of Structure Information Standards (OASIS), which promptly formed a technical committee focusing on WS-Security, and intended to give vendors a crack at the immature specification.

OASIS also absorbed the UDDI.org group that was building UDDI technology for dynamically discovering and consuming published Web services.

UDDI, in conjunction with XML, SOAP, and WSDL form the core set of base protocols for Web services that vendors such as Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp., Microsoft, IBM, and BEA have all agreed to support.

One source "surmises" that the three new specifications eventually will wind up in OASIS, or another standards body such the W3C.

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